In defense of Polly Pockets

by DaniGirl on August 31, 2006 · 22 comments

in Mothering without a licence

We’re at McDonalds (I know, I know) and we’re making an event out of it. We’re not zooming through the drive-thru, we’re actually in the restaurant standing at the counter. We’re about to have a little picnic lunch on the patio, because we have time to kill and it’s a beautiful day.

So I place our orders with the painfully blasé seventeen-year-old girl behind the counter, and I tell her I would like one “Hummer” happy meal and one “Polly Pockets” happy meal. And she says, “Okay, one boy and one girl happy meal.”

And I straighten my shoulders and set my feet and say, with a pointed glance at my two boys, “No, as a matter of fact, I would like one HUMMER meal and one POLLY POCKETS meal, thank you.”

She takes a long, evaluating look at me and decides not to mess with the wigged-out suburban granola cruncher taking up space at her counter. She shrugs dismissively and says a quiet, “Whatever” as she punches our order into her cash register.

And you know what? By the time the fries were cold and the hamburgers had been gormandized, the Hummer toy was lying to one side, forgotten, as the boys argued over the Polly Pockets doll.

All of which begs me to ask: why is McDonalds gender stereotyping in their Happy Meal toys? Why segment the market like this? We also frequent Harveys and Wendys (yes, we eat way too much fast food – but that’s another story) and they don’t gender-segment their hamburger-snarfing clientele. Harveys is my favourite by far; they offer little cans of play-dough and crayola markers that have become staples in the ‘entertainment-on-the-go’ pocket of our diaper bag.

I knew Simon would love the Polly Pockets doll. When we go to our local toy store, Tristan is magnetically drawn to the train table, but Simon tends to drift after a moment or two over to the Calico Critters dollhouse. And if you asked me, I’d say Tristan is the sensitive one. Simon has just always had a thing for dollhouses. I’m thinking about getting him a set for Christmas, but at two-and-a-half, I’m betting this phase won’t last. Unfortunately.

At least now I know. Next time we go to McDonalds (because, despite my best intentions otherwise, there will be plenty of ‘next times’) I’ll be ordering TWO Polly Pocket happy meals, for my smart, sensitive and oh-so-comfortable with their masculinity sons.


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 roxanne August 30, 2006 at 1:33 pm

Yay for you! There are so many parents out there afraid to nurture the sensitive side of their sons. It’s good to see someone stand up to the blatant stereotyping such as you found in Mickey D’s (I’ve always hated that too). We always allowed our son to choose which type of toys he wanted (one year he received a doll house at Christmas). He is a very sensitive 13 year old now and I know that someday his significant other will be very appreciative of it.

2 roxanne August 30, 2006 at 1:33 pm

Yay for you! There are so many parents out there afraid to nurture the sensitive side of their sons. It’s good to see someone stand up to the blatant stereotyping such as you found in Mickey D’s (I’ve always hated that too). We always allowed our son to choose which type of toys he wanted (one year he received a doll house at Christmas). He is a very sensitive 13 year old now and I know that someday his significant other will be very appreciative of it.

3 nancy August 30, 2006 at 2:05 pm

Ben would love the Polly Pockets…he STILL plays with his blue & pink “Little Pony” that was a Happy Meal gimick over a year ago. He even combs the hair, well, before it goes into battle with the rescue heroes.

4 APL August 30, 2006 at 2:09 pm

Just chiming in to say that we’ve been to McD’s a couple of times during this promotion, and Angry Boy likes his Polly Pocket as much as, if not more than, his Hummer.

5 suze August 30, 2006 at 2:15 pm

when my brother and I were young, my parents gave me a (handmade by my father) dollhouse and my brother a fisher price garage set. Within an hour, jonathan was playing with the doll house and I was zipping cars up and down the ramp of the garage. Kids don’t really seem to care about the so called gender appropriatness of their toys until they catch on that society does.

6 Kris August 30, 2006 at 2:24 pm

You know, I could have sworn I heard a few months ago McDonald’s announce that they were going to stop saying “boy or girl.” Then it never happened. They really need to stop that. How dare that worker say whatever to you? How rude!
A few weeks ago, I took the kids to a McDonald’s here that has an outdoor play structure. They got the Hummer Happy Meals, but a woman next to us asked if we wanted her daughter’s Polly Pockets because her daughter was too old for it. then we found another Polly on the playground and took it home. The boys definitely played more with the Polly, which, they NEVER play with dolls. Must be something about that Polly … 🙂 Just a more fun toy I guess.

7 Renee August 30, 2006 at 2:38 pm

Can I hear an ‘amen’ to that post?! A loud, enthusiastic amen. I relate totally and completely.
In fact, I said, earlier in the week, that I should go to McDonalds to get John M. a Polly Pocket Happy meal. He loves those chicks!

8 Cakes August 30, 2006 at 3:10 pm

My boys love playing with dolls. Luckily, we have a girl to provide that outlet. All of them do really like the wooden castle playset they have that has knights and princesses and dragons. A nice mix and compromise.
I must say though, my kids are scared of the McD’s Polly Pockets b/c they don’t understand why they have to put her in the “refrigerator” (the wierd coffin box she comes with) They all end up getting the hummers (against Dearie’s moral and ethical protests) to take to the park and slide down the slide.

9 Madeleine August 30, 2006 at 4:00 pm

And when we go to McD’s we almost always get Snuggly Girl the truck or spy toy or whatever. Because it seems like the “boy” toys are more interactive than the “girl” toys. A pink plastic shell that pops open to reveal . . . a necklace. Gee, no thanks. I’m glad to hear they are at least making corporate motions about eliminating the g/b labels. And I agree that the Harvey’s craft stuff is the best!
SG is still grousing about the goody bag she got at a birthday party last weekend. The ones the boys got looked better. Why do parents perpetuate this? I have half an answer, knowing how much longer it took me to pick out goody bag ingredients in my stubborn attempt to find things that weren’t gender-screaming. But that really is only half an answer, or maybe one quarter.

10 Lini August 30, 2006 at 4:05 pm

I think a letter to MC d’S IS in order. I totally agree with you Dani!
BTW, Lexi doesn’t play with dolls at all, she only plays with cars and trains (yes we have a full complement of Thomas and his friends). We have everyone of the bob the builders trucks and need only one more to finalize the CARS collection, which is her favorite movie. I stopped asking for polly’s and now get the hummers. go figure.

11 Jodi August 30, 2006 at 5:01 pm

One time when my oldest son was 2 or so, we were at McDonalds and they had the boy/girl Happy Meals – I shouted to my son (with my husband) across the crowded restaurant “Ry, do you want a Barbie or a car?” My husband damn near died…

12 Kristina August 30, 2006 at 8:23 pm

Good for you!!! I do think that Mickey D’s is supposed to call the Happy Meals by their toy names and not by their gender stereotypes (at least my local one does), but the girl at the counter got it wrong. She needs to be corrected – good on ya for doing it.

13 Kristina August 30, 2006 at 8:23 pm

Good for you!!! I do think that Mickey D’s is supposed to call the Happy Meals by their toy names and not by their gender stereotypes (at least my local one does), but the girl at the counter got it wrong. She needs to be corrected – good on ya for doing it.

14 Sharon August 30, 2006 at 8:43 pm

Is just me or is McD’s getting sloppy?
I know this is not what you were taking about, but there food used to be HOT and Fresh and tasted ok. Now it’s cold, and Rubbery and leaves me thinking why did I come here? Nathan and I the last couple of times were nto impress with the food or the toys. This week we went because school was starting and they gave him a stuffed animal and ther were those Hummer’s I had to ask for the toy they didn’t put in it and then they gave him the toddler toy. He was fine with the stuffed dog but I know he wanted the hummer. I should have said something but by this time our food was frozen again and I was hungry.
Let’s just say it’s gonna be awhile.
Yes I eat too much fast food too.

15 Sharon August 30, 2006 at 8:43 pm

Is just me or is McD’s getting sloppy?
I know this is not what you were taking about, but there food used to be HOT and Fresh and tasted ok. Now it’s cold, and Rubbery and leaves me thinking why did I come here? Nathan and I the last couple of times were nto impress with the food or the toys. This week we went because school was starting and they gave him a stuffed animal and ther were those Hummer’s I had to ask for the toy they didn’t put in it and then they gave him the toddler toy. He was fine with the stuffed dog but I know he wanted the hummer. I should have said something but by this time our food was frozen again and I was hungry.
Let’s just say it’s gonna be awhile.
Yes I eat too much fast food too.

16 SheilaC August 30, 2006 at 9:39 pm

We have often switched toys like that. Often the toys have been ugly and violent, in my opinion, and inappropriate for preschoolers. So we have gotten only “girl” toys, or asked for the toddler ones instead, which are often cute Fisher Price toys. My son loved the Pony toys a year or so ago. However this summer all three of our kids thought the pirate toys were super-cool! (Though it will be many years before I let them see Pirates of the Caribbean.)
If you think a dollhouse might be good, go for it. 2 1/2 is a great age for the FisherPrice Little People doll house, and the people will go with any other of those sets you might have (fire station, garage, school bus, farm etc.) At age 6 and starting grade one, our trio are still playing with the Little People sets from time to time. And I will be very sorry when it’s time to let them go!

17 SheilaC August 30, 2006 at 9:39 pm

We have often switched toys like that. Often the toys have been ugly and violent, in my opinion, and inappropriate for preschoolers. So we have gotten only “girl” toys, or asked for the toddler ones instead, which are often cute Fisher Price toys. My son loved the Pony toys a year or so ago. However this summer all three of our kids thought the pirate toys were super-cool! (Though it will be many years before I let them see Pirates of the Caribbean.)
If you think a dollhouse might be good, go for it. 2 1/2 is a great age for the FisherPrice Little People doll house, and the people will go with any other of those sets you might have (fire station, garage, school bus, farm etc.) At age 6 and starting grade one, our trio are still playing with the Little People sets from time to time. And I will be very sorry when it’s time to let them go!

18 Marla August 30, 2006 at 10:48 pm

We, ahem, got the Polly Pockets doll at that place (where I ran into two other moms in my neighbourhood who also NEVER go there) and unfortch, Josie saw it before I could ask for the Hummer instead, then I couldn’t switch it. What was MY problem with the Polly Pockets? More damn plastic pieces and stickers that don’t stick. Instead of one crap toy to surreptitiously dispose of, I’d have to find and gather up the parts to donate it (so that another kid can enjoy it as it should be) and then thankfully I found a ten year old who wanted it, and slipped it to her right under Josie’s nose. My other problem with it? The one with the mermaid costume? Where you put the shell stickers on her…upper lady parts? Those are pasties, man. PASTIES.

19 Jen August 31, 2006 at 2:07 am

Great post and shame on McDs for the sterotyping. Baby Girl got her first polly pocket (from a happy meal of course) and I was happy that they actually look kind of normal, unlike Silicon barbie or Oops, My clothes fell off Bratz.

20 andrea from the fishbowl August 31, 2006 at 2:03 pm

Why are we all surprised?
My philosophy is this: expect crap from McDonalds and you will never be disappointed.
😉

21 Jennifer (ponderosa) August 31, 2006 at 9:23 pm

That’s funny. Neither of my kids liked the Polly Pockets. Son and daughter both loved the Hummer. They like things with wheels.

22 Rev. Dr. Mom August 31, 2006 at 10:56 pm

Another AMEN here for this post.
How about one toy for everyone?
Luckily my kid is too old for happymeals and hates McD’s 🙂

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